Warhammer 40,000: Fireteam is tactical skirmish combat on a budget

Games Workshop’s latest board game was announced over the weekend with little fanfare, but it’s actually a tremendous value. Warhammer 40,000: Fireteam only costs $49.99, but it packs much of the same kind of drama as the rebooted version of Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team. The $49.99 Barnes & Noble exclusive goes on sale Sept. 11. Here’s how it works, and why it’s a big deal for the famously complex tabletop franchise.

Getting started with any of Games Workshop’s properties can feel like a bit of a scavenger hunt. For instance, you can pick up the latest set of Kill Team at your local game store and online for about $170 — but you don’t actually get two complete sets of troops inside that box. For that you’ll need to wait a little while longer for stand-alone sets of Krieg and Ork miniatures to make it onto store shelves … or buy a second starter set. Additionally, once you put it all together you’ll need somewhere to store it all, as there’s simply no getting this much toothpaste back into its cardboard tube.

Photo: Charlie Hall Polygon

Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

With Fireteam, you actually get two complete fighting forces inside the box. You also get a nice plastic pack-in that keeps everything you need to play in one place. It’s a highly portable experience, and it only takes about 30-45 minutes to play a game. That means you can roll into your friend’s house or the local game shop, bang out a few games in about an hour, and move on with your day. It’s quick and satisfying, and it comes with a great selection of the push-fit models included with the sought-after Warhammer 40,000: Indomitus boxed set.

The ruleset for playing Fireteam is an abbreviated version of the brand-new Kill Team experience. Movement is abstracted from inches down to hexes, but by and large everything else is the same. Players even use similar stat blocks to control their units across both games. The Fireteam set comes with a campaign mode, just like its big brother Kill Team, meaning you can string together multiple missions with a friend and improve your individual units along the way. Best of all there are cards inside the box detailing four additional armies — one each for the Militarum Tempestus, the T’au Empire, Orks, and Harlequins — that can all be built with just one additional box of models each.

When the original Kill Team launched in 2018, many saw it as the gateway to getting people into the full-fledged Warhammer 40,000 tabletop wargame. That never panned out due, in part, to the quirkiness and complexity of its rules. But Fireteam is very clearly intended to be the gateway to getting people into the new version of Kill Team. If you were on the fence about that rebooted skirmish game — or looking to save a little money and just settle down to paint some miniatures with a gameplay goal in mind — Warhammer 40,000: Fireteam is the new best point of entry into the franchise.

Warhammer 40,000: Fireteam was reviewed with a copy of the retail game provided by Games Workshop. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

Warhammer 40,000: Fireteam

  • $50

Prices taken at time of publishing.

• 2 players, age 12+

• Playtime: 30-45 minutes

• Game type: Skirmish game, miniatures game, wargame

• Category: Competitive game, campaign game, two-player game

• Similar games: Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team: Octarius

  • $50 at Barnes & Noble
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